How do I pick a school?

First, take a deep breath and remind yourself you don't have to plan your entire life before you finish high school. But the sooner you start narrowing down your options, the better your chances of picking the school that best fits your needs.

So, ask yourself, "What do I enjoy the most?" Answering that question will go a long way toward helping you determine what to study in college.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

  • How far from home would you like to be?
  • How big, or small, a school would you feel comfortable attending?
  • Do you want to live on or off campus?
  • How important is student and faculty diversity?
  • What kind of student organizations do they have?
  • Does the school offer classes online?
  • Are athletics important to you?
  • What's your financial situation?

All this can seem overwhelming at first. That's totally normal. Just remember, by starting now, you'll have enough time to consider what different schools have to offer and find the one that's best for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you make the right decision.

College guides are available in print and online to give you an overview of every school in America. Narrow your search by visiting school websites.  Attend college fairs. Talk with campus recruiters. Tour schools that make your short list. Read their campus newspapers. And when you have questions, and you will have questions, ask.

WHAT STUDENTS OFTEN ASK...

AT COLLEGE FAIRS

How much is tuition?

Can I get a list of majors to take with me and look over later?

When is the enrollment deadline?

When do you need SAT scores? Or ACT scores? And what's the difference?

Does every room have Internet access?

How safe is campus?

How many students drop out? How many graduate?

What do students complain about most?

Do I have to pay for parking?

Are classes within easy walking distance from on-campus housing?

Will I get personal attention from my professors when needed?

WHAT STUDENTS OFTEN ASK...

OTHER STUDENTS

Do "big-name" professors teach your classes or mostly teaching assistants?

Are your courses project- or lecture-oriented?

Are freshman lecture classes held in an amphitheater?

How hard do you have to work for grades?

How good is the campus computer network?

What is the food like in the dorms?

What do students do on weekends?

Are campus organizations really open to anyone, or are they run by just a few groups?

Do fraternities and sororities dominate social life on campus?